Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chow Time at Wood Ranch

Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill
22352 El Paseo
Rancho Santa Margarita, CA 92688

We were going to be leaving for vacation, and Katie's family wanted to see her one last time before we were off to New York. So we stopped packing and made the trip out to Wood Ranch BBQ in Rancho Santa Margarita. I have kind of become jaded when going to chain barbecue places, but I have always kind of liked WR, and have yet to review it, so that is where we headed.

Wood Ranch operates 13 restaurants, including the other OC location in Anaheim Hills. They also will be opening an Irvine location at the Spectrum this summer. Their menu features steaks, seafood, burgers and barbecue. Their barbecue is cooked in a two step process, first it is roasted overnight, and then it is cooked to order.  Let's see how all the food turned out.

At Wood Ranch they serve you these garlic rolls, instead of a bread basket. These came out nice and warm, and very full of garlic. As these cooled, they lost a little bit of their softness, but they were still pretty good.

To start off our meal we went with the BBQ Chicken Potato Skins. These potato skins came with cheese, barbecue sauce, and chicken. I felt the potato part of these was a little too crisp, and they could have been a little more generous with the cheese and chicken on these. The barbecue sauce on these was the standout flavor here.

Katie's Dad was not too hungry so he opted to get a bowl of Clam Chowder soup. This soup looked watery and average to me. Dennis did not rave about the soup, but said it was fine. Not exactly a rave review for this soup.

Katie must have forgotten that she was at a barbecue restaurant, because she ordered a salad. At least she got a salad with some meat on it, the Wood Roasted Tri-Tip Salad. This salad featured baby greens, romaine, tomatoes, Gorgonzola, tri-tip, and mint julep dressing. I had a few bite of this salad and found it to be quite good. The tri-tip was flavorful and the dressing was a good compliment to the meat. Katie would have liked the meat to have been warmer and juicier.

Sara and Lynn both got BBQ Pork Pulled Sandwiches. Both the sliders and the traditional sandwich are served with Carolina slaw and pickle chips. The barbecue sauce is served on the side. Sara, the kind hearted woman that she is, even gave me half of her sandwich. Thanks Sara! Anyways, I found the meat to have a decent flavor, not over-powering, and it was paired nicely with the slaw and barbecue sauce. I would get this sandwich again.

Kevin's, "go to",  item in restaurants is a hamburger, and at Wood Ranch he stuck true to form with the Buckeye Burger. This burger came with BBQ sauce, bacon, and Tillamook cheddar cheese. I did not get a chance to sample this burger, but from across the table it looked pretty good. Kevin had no complaints with this burger.

I was in a barbecue restaurant, so I went with actual barbecue food. I had the two item WR BBQ Combo with tri-tip and baby back ribs. The tri tip was the best thing on the plate. Tender and moist would be used to describe the tri tip. The baby backs were good, but made better by their barbecue sauce. I liked the barbecue sauce here. Usually I am more a spice guy, but when it comes to barbecue sauce I like it better on the sweeter side. The side items were just average. The Peanut Cole Slaw was bland, and the Lauren's Favorite Mac and Cheese was a little light on the cheese. Not so great.

We got to Wood Ranch on a Friday night at 7 and they were very busy. We were seated on the very crowded outside patio. It was way too cramped out there, and servers were having to dodge customers all night. Our overly enthusiastic server was fine, but left us for long stretches of time. Luckily we were in no rush, as we were enjoying each others company, even Sara's.

I think I am ready to deem Wood Ranch my favorite barbecue chain restaurant. Over the years they have been way more consistent than Lucille's, and way better than Tony Roma's. Geez, are there even anymore Tony Roma's around? Their prices are on par, if not better than other barbecue joints, with plates averaging just under twenty dollars. The barbecue here can not compete with small independent places like Blake's Place and Bad to the Bone, but I think that is because they are cooking in such large volume.

So out of five wranglers, (because wranglers live on ranches), five being best to zero being worst, Wood Ranch gets 3 wranglers.

For more information on Wood Ranch, click here:

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill (Rancho Santa Margarita) on Urbanspoon


  1. Wow, it makes me hungry. All the foods looks delicious and I just love how they look like. Baby back ribs is the best, used to love this since I visited my aunt at Texas Ranches.

  2. I don't know. We don't bother going to WR anymore, unless it's for happy hour. It's not that their food is bad - it's just average (as shown by your 3 star review). The value is what makes it so much worse. For the price you pay, you get a huge plate with a little bit of food on it.

    I can go to Lucille's and pay less and get a overflowing plate of average food. However, we don' go to Lucille's much anymore since they changed their menu and got rid of the Pulled Pork Salad, which was stellar.

  3. Went to WR for the 1st time last week and we probably won't go back. I had the same combo as OCEater and it was just OK. I do not like my ribs covered in sauce and this sauce was just too sweet for me. The tri-tip was good tender until I got to the second half which was all fat and no meat. I agree about the coleslaw, limp and tastless. For the money, I will go to Bad to the Bone in SJC. And for good BBQ for a little less money, I'll go to Beach Pit.

  4. Jenny - I agree, baby back ribs are great, especially in Texas. They know how to make ribs there. Thanks for the comment.

    Dgstan - I totally agree with you. Both WR and Lucille's are average, but for a big eater like myself, Lucille's would be the better value. Never tried the pulled pork salad, but it sounds interesting. Thanks for the comment.

    Mvmommy - I have not been to Beach Pit, but it is now on my list. Bad to the Bone is good, but I was not excited by their sides. The meats were pretty good though. Thanks for the comment.